WMLTblog — Think Tank on Campus Ministry Announced

Found on Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog:


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Last month, President Harrison wrote a “Pastoral Letter about Campus Ministry” to the church and signaled that the Office of National Mission (ONM) was prepared to take direct leadership once again in support of campus ministry. He mentioned that the ONM was at work coordinating a task force as well as initiating plans for a national campus ministry conference in the future. As the Executive Director of the ONM, I want to update you on our plans.

First, a President’s Think Tank on Campus Ministry has been scheduled for January 3–4, 2012, at the International Center in St. Louis, Mo.

The following individuals have been invited, and have agreed to, participate in the meeting:

  • Mrs. Anne Bakker, Mt. Pleasant, Mich., ISM director at a full-time campus ministry
  • Mr. Andy Bates, St. Louis, Mo., Career and Technology Education specialist, St. Louis College at Meramec
  • Mr. Phillip Fischaber, Tulsa, Okla., college student, LSF Regional representative
  • The Rev. Dr. Erik Herrmann, St. Louis, Mo., CSL representative
  • Mr. Jon Jensen, Metro St. Louis, Mo., executive director, LCMA
  • The Rev. Mark Kiessling, St. Louis, Mo., LCMS Youth and Young Adult Ministry
  • The Rev. David Kind, Minneapolis, Minn., full-time campus pastor, Higher Things vice president
  • The Rev. Dr. Paul Maier, Kalamazoo, Mich., COP, Praesidium (Third Vice-President)
  • The Rev. Richard Manus, Fenton, Mo., LCMS campus ministry counselor (1998–2002)
  • Dr. Angus Menuge, Mequon, Wisc., CUS professor, commissioned teacher
  • Mrs. Martha Milas, Champaign, Ill., Board for National Mission
  • Miss Shaina Mitchell, Muncie, In., full-time campus ministry deaconess
  • Mrs. Marcia Mittwede, Round Rock, Texas, ISM, Inc. co-president
  • The Rev. Max Mons, Iowa City, Iowa, full-time campus pastor
  • The Rev. Ian Pacey, Tucson, Ariz., full-time campus pastor
  • The Rev. Prof. John Pless, Fort Wayne, Ind., CTSFW representative
  • The Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz, Huntington Beach, Cali., parish pastor
  • Dr. James Tallmon, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Board for National Mission
  • The Rev. Jay Winters, Tallahassee, Fla., full-time campus pastor, LCMA Board Member, former LSF Advisor
  • Mr. Greg Witto, Charleston, Ill., full-time director of campus ministry, DCE, LCMA Vice President
  • The Rev. Marcus Zill, Laramie, Wyo., full-time campus pastor, Christ on Campus executive, Higher Things

While we would love to have more participants, this geographically diverse and well-rounded mix of laity, commissioned and ordained ministers represents well those who are presently engaged in campus ministry (e.g., LCMA, ISM, LSF, CoC, etc.) and incorporates those with significant past campus experience and others who can contribute in giving input and direction to our office. The Think Tank also includes two representatives from the National Mission Board, one member of the Council of Presidents and representatives from both seminaries and one of our Concordia universities.

Second, I have also formed a steering committee to begin preparations for a future national campus ministry conference. That committee includes:

  • Rev. Marcus Zill, Laramie, Wyo., Chair
  • Mr. Andy Bates, Wildwood, Mo.
  • Miss Shaina Mitchell, Muncie, Ind.
  • Rev. Max Mons, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Rev. Jay Winters, Tallahassee, Fla.

This committee will start work as soon as possible but will also have the opportunity to gain valuable input from the other Think Tank participants at the early January meeting.

Thank you for the tremendous amount of helpful advice and input that so many of you have given to our office in the last couple of weeks. We look forward to working with all of those above—and the many more whom they represent—as we give shape to this new direction for campus ministry in our beloved Synod together through the Office of National Mission.

We will do our best to keep the church up to date as plans continue to materialize. As always, we value your ongoing input and covet your prayers as we seek to strengthen our work on our nation’s college campuses for the sake of the Gospel.


Rev. J. Bart Day
Executive Director of National Mission

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


WMLTblog — Think Tank on Campus Ministry Announced — 24 Comments

  1. Sounds like a lot of good stuff and it is in good hands with Rev. Day and with the likes of Zill and Pless being involved but like so many others I am weary of task forces and conferences. I say, just get a few people together, makes some plans and get something done. Or probably better yet, save the conference and task force efforts and invest the time in restoring the culture of the LCMS to its original plan of being a confessional, lituirgical denomination that emphasizes the teaching of the Word – a church culture that would not allow the travesty of the selling of a place like ULC.

    May God bless these efforts but may God also ultimately save us from task forces and a beuaracratic approach to these important things.

    BTW – may I also add that this administration is doing as much and more to restore the historic confessional Lutheran Church than any other in my lifetime.


  2. While President Harrison is to be applauded for his efforts, we must not forget the task that was assigned to President J.A.O. Preus. His actions held the LCMS together when it could have fractured the Synod beyond repair. The Seminex Walkout had the potential to cripple the Synod but by God’s grace it did not.

    History will judge the Presidency of Preus as a pivotal era in which the Battle for the Bible was won in a major denomination. There is still much work to be done. Preus fired 4 District Presidents who ordained Seminex grads. Without that action there would have been chaos in the calling process for pastors.

  3. I commend President Harrison, Rev. Day and the Office of National Mission, and Rev. Briehl and the Board for National Mission for making this a priority. I share Pastor Rossow’s concerns about task forces, but I do think its work could be very positive in the end – should it be leveraged by courageous leadership at both the district and synod levels. I pray this will not be another reaction to a ‘crise du jour’ that will be forgotten when the next crisis comes along. Campus ministry needs help!

    It will be a disappointment if all that comes out of this is a statement saying “we should support campus ministry.” The reality is that some of our campus ministries are excellent; others are not. Some are models to be emulated; some are models to be dismantled.

    It is no secret, for example, that the campus ministry at University of Nebraska – Lincoln cancels worship once a month to do community service projects. I say “worship” because when they do have worship, they don’t do anything close to a Divine Service. When I attended the “traditional” service there recently, there were neither Scripture readings nor a creed. And the Lord’s Supper wasn’t even consecrated with the Verba, so I don’t know what they had. (It was half-Verba, half-commentary).* The pastor doesn’t distribute communion anyway. They do an “emergent” thing where “communicants” (again, I’m not sure if this is really communion) come up to one of three stations and give themselves the questionably consecrated elements.

    I’m all for works of mercy. But they should be one with witness and life together. We need to not only support and extend the Lord’s ministry on college campuses – we also need to uphold those models that are truly Lutheran, and reform those that have gone astray.

    I’m thankful that my son, who attends UNL, is able to go instead to a church off-campus. A local, mainstream LCMS congregation provides bus service for him and a couple of other students. But it should not be that he has to go to a church two miles away instead of the one two blocks away. At least he has an option. I really feel for our Lutheran college students who are stuck on campuses where there is no such option for them.

    *See Comment #21 for clarification and a follow-up report.

  4. While this update from the Executive Director of National Mission gives the list of individuals who will be participating in the January 3-4, 2012, meeting in St. Louis, the only “Think Tank” objective the update had was “giving input and direction to our office [of National Mission (ONM)].”

    In addition to this “Think Tank” objective, the update also had the “steering committee” objective “to begin preparations for a future national campus ministry conference.”

    This is not much more information on goals and objectives for these groups than previously announced in the October thread, “More on ULC from the Office of the President,” which noted “the Office of National Mission is assembling a campus ministry task force, and plans are underway to host a future national campus ministry conference.”

  5. @LaVonne #5
    Wow, I wonder if Presidents Harrison and Fondow would give a slightly different account, but wow. That sort of takes the wind out of my sails a bit.

  6. @LaVonne #5
    I disagree with your interpretation of these minutes. I think that they are written from a very distinct point of view, clearly, and might be a bit biased. And I do not think that they demonstrate that Pastor Harrison threw ULC under the bus. Maybe he did, but these minutes don’t indicate that, not at all.

    And I remember, very clearly, that Pastor Harrison has asked every single pastor (and by implication, also every church and layperson) in the Synod to contribute to one single congregation, ULCMN. This is absolutely without precedent. It shows a tremendous commitment to ULC, and also implies that they are righteous and deserving. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    I have not given up on this building in this place. It makes me sick to think that it could be bulldozed and desecrated. But let us not forget who actually is doing this. It is not Pastor Harrison. I wish that he had done more sooner, but I also am tremendously grateful for what he has done recently on ULC’s behalf. And I hope and pray that he will do more still. I do not give up–not on him, and not on other efforts that I very much hope go forward–to raise funds, to hopefully retain this sacred ground, to establish this congregation firmly on its own two feet, built on the Rock, whether this steeple falls (oh how I pray that it does not!) or stands.

    And I admire the Pastor and members of ULC for their courage and their trust in God, and for calling for prayer for those who seem to have chosen to be enemies to them, and for staying so righteous through all that they have endured. I only wish that there was more that I could do to help.

  7. @LaVonne #5

     “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. ”  1 John 1

    Again much of these minutes simply refer to “executive sessions”.  Now I can’t even get the link to work.

  8. @Old Time St. John’s #7
    Perhaps I was too hasty in my judgment of President Harrison. I too am thankful for all he has done for ULC and agree that he has probably done more than any other Synodical President would do. It would be good to hear his side of the story on how this meeting went, though. These minutes did not reflect well upon him.

  9. @John Rixe #8
    The link is gone from the MNS Website. Maybe Pres. Harrison registered a complaint?

    The use of executive session in the MNS is getting ridiculous too. Most of their minutes seem to be a record of going in and out of exec session and little more.

  10. @LaVonne #10
    Thank you, LaVonne. This whole thing is so horrible.

    I actually read the minutes as Pastor Harrison supporting the Chapel very strongly, albeit I’m looking at them through a ‘consider the source’ filter. And I imagine that they were just a preliminary draft. In my experience, minutes are often wrong the first time they are written. I noticed that the minutes of the meeting to sell the Chapel are different on the MNS website than the ones shown right after that meeting, so I imagine that those were updated as well–it’s not uncommon. Let’s wait and see what version becomes official, because that is the public face of the meeting. Incidentally, I’m impressed that Pastor Harrison did meet with the BOD even though they had already executed the sale. I hope that he does even more now.

    I notice that Pastor Kind, the campus minister at ULCMN, is on the national campus ministry think tank. That is quite a compliment to him and to ULCMN, and very well deserved. How wonderful that the Synod recognizes ULC’s and his value, despite the present difficulties, and doesn’t just sweep this uncomfortable situation under the rug. And how wonderful that ULCMN’s former Pastor, Professor Pless, is also on the think tank.

    This is not over. There is a still a thriving congregation worshipping in a sanctuary that our Lutheran forebears’ dedication and funds built that needs and warrants our prayers and financial support. Will we be there for them? I pray that we will, together.

  11. Good, Matthew!

    It seems that saving copies of pertinent LCMS-related posts and links is becoming a prudent practice, given how things suddenly can be purged, censored, or revised, especially when they are or may be revealing, controversial, or embarrassing.

  12. @LaVonne #11
    The minutes of the Oct 24th meeting indicated that the district’s lawyer was in attendance. It is possible, therefore, that the board went into executive session, one or both times, that day in order to discuss privileged legal matters with its attorney. If that was the case, then IMHO it was a legitimate use of executive session.

    This was not the case, however, at its May and September meetings this year. In those cases the board sinned by doing that which is directly contrary to God’s command to conduct business in the light of day, i.e. in the open.

  13. Having visited my alma mater Valpo recently, it occurs to me that this would be the ideal place to start a campus ministry. They certainly need a good Lutheran presence there. And while we’re at it, how about Capital, Wittenberg, Gettysburg, and a few others? Fertile soil for some very creative think-tanking here, (or is it tank-thinking?). Whatever….

    Just thinking….

    Johannes (tongue planted firmly in cheek….kind of)

  14. I’d just like to report that I finally was able to connect with the campus pastor at University of Nebraska. I remain very thankful that a local congregation offers authentic Lutheran ministry to my son and about 20 other UNL students. But I do regret that I had not been able to talk to Pastor Steinbauer prior to my post. Had I done so (we had been engaged in “phone tag” at the time), I would have explained things in a kinder way. I still disagree with his practice, and stand by what I wrote, but would like to clarify two things:

    1 – I disagree with adding commentary to the Verba, but it should be noted that the pastor’s practice is to say the complete Words of Institution. He apparently made a mistake that Sunday. I apologize for the error. I still maintain that the Verba should not have man’s words – however helpful and true – added to them and note that one is less likely to make a mistake like this if one “sticks to the text.”

    2 – When they cancel their regular services to do social work once a month, they do have a worship service. I am not alone in being confused in the communication on that. There are UNL students who believe the same thing. Again, I disagree with this practice, but I should have described it more accurately.

    I am glad I am having this dialog with the local pastor and others on this subject and am encouraged that some changes are being considered. I encourage my brothers and sisters here to take similar concerns directly to the source – and to the appropriate overseers of ministry – and to do so in charity and in good order.

    I hope that the Nebraska District will renew its commitment to offering traditional Lutheran ministry to the students – either via campus ministry or by sanctioning a local congregation to do this work – and that parents of our college students in every state will make their voices known to their districts and to the President’s Think Tank on campus ministry. One thing Pastor Steinbauer and I certainly do agree on: the membership losses we experience among our youth as they attend secular institutions of higher learning is staggering and must be reversed.

  15. @Phillip #21
    It is impressive to me that you made the effort to set the record straight, despite the amount of time that passed since your initial post.

    I concur that based on the descriptions of the two ministries, I would prefer that my daughter, now in high school, participate in the one that your son attends. Finding a good college fit for her that includes a capable, liturgical, doctrinally sound Lutheran church nearby is one of our family’s most important tasks during the next year or two. Major bonus points if it is within easy walking distance of the university–thus making it a campus ministry as well as a good church.

  16. And regarding ULCMN, the below is still true:

    Old Time St. John’s :
    This is not over. There is a still a thriving congregation worshipping in a sanctuary that our Lutheran forebears’ dedication and funds built that needs and warrants our prayers and financial support. Will we be there for them? I pray that we will, together.

  17. Does anyone know if this Think Tank happened on January 3?  What were the results?   We should be grateful to the participants for their service and encourage them to get proactively involved in the decisions regarding the PSW campus properties.  This is not just a California issue.  Like Minneapolis, students come from all over including abroad to attend these universities.

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